Why does parish growth happen one month after many months of no growth?  At St. James we have had first time visitors on the first three Sundays of August.   We are delighted of course and thankful for the interest these households have shown in our ministry.  So far two households have asked to join us in August, and it is very possible that more will join as we enter the fall.  Tonight a delighted member of St. James asked “Why now?  What is different?”  It is an interesting question.  We have not experienced a growth spurt like this since we launched in 2009. What is different about now?

First it is obvious that Church Shopping Season is upon us.  I have said for years that the season opens on August 1st and continues through early November.  I have observed that growing churches gain up to half of their annual growth during this 3.5 month period.  I have no numbers to back this claim up.  It is simply an impression I have.  Needless to say I am excited about this great start to August!  This is a natural time to look for a church and indeed most of the households that have visited us moved into the area in the last six months and are now looking for a new church.

What else is different?  We continue to make incremental improvements and these eventually add up to noticeable differences.  Small things like adding a crying room with sound piped in from the service enhance our time together.  Perhaps these continuing improvements are helping us over some invisible tipping point.  Maybe.  I love the changes we have made and are making, but I think there is a more important factor.

I think we are relaxed now.  We are now around 18 months old.  We enjoy our worship and service.  St. James is a stress free environment.  We are enjoying a peacefulness that flows from unity into worship and mission.  This relaxed peacefulness is the environment that visitors experience when they come.  We hope that our visitors will choose to join St. James, but we understand that we are not for everyone and we are relaxed about that.  We are not anxious about the future.  I think we are becoming comfortable in our own skin.  We have attained a state of relaxed preparedness.  I believe this makes us more useful to God.

What do you think?